Saturday, June 16, 2018

175 Years of the Oregon Trail: A Visit to Captivating Casper on Your Way to Oregon City

 This post is sponsored by Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory but the content and opinions expressed here are my own

The Oregon Trail is celebrating its 175 birthday this year. Thanks to this trail, and the adventurous and courageous souls that traveled upon it, America is a nation that reaches from sea to shining sea. (Or so the song says.) Along this iconic trail from Independence, Missouri  to its official end in Oregon City, Oregon, one of the stops is my current hometown: Casper, WY. Recently I was asked by Oregon's Mt. Hood Territory to show you around Casper as part of the 175 birthday celebration. They have multiple bloggers showing stops along the trail. So, now that you have "arrived" here from North Platte, Nebraska, I am so excited to showcase a few hidden gems in my city! 

A sign available at WYO Shirt and Gift Shop

Because this post is just one of many in a series sponsored by Mt. Hood showcasing stops along the trail on it's way to Oregon City, make sure to check out other stops along the way- Find them here! What an amazing and educational road trip that would be for kids.... And if they are fighting in the car, you can make it even more authentic by making them walk part of the way.... Just kidding! :) 

The Wyoming National Historical Trails Interpretive Center 

The Wyoming National Historic Trails Interpretive Center is quite a museum marvel. As you can see below, even the entrance is meant to symbolize a covered wagon. If you are into history, especially Oregon Trail history, you will totally appreciate this museum. It is VERY kid friendly, so bring the family! The museum is FREE, (Yep- you read that right.) but please consider making a donation to keep this wonderful place going.  

The blue architectural design is meant to symbolize the Platte River, and its final crossing that happened near Casper. While you're drinking in the beautiful architecture of the museum, take in the beautiful Wyoming grasses and wildflowers that adorn the surrounding area.


With volunteers' and staff's help, you can see what life was like on the plains for pioneers, militia, and pony express riders. 

Listen to music that pioneers would have played along the trail.

Watch trail biscuits being made.... and even taste test one!

Learn how old fashioned militias worked and lived on the frontier.

Quiz the volunteers about their time in history and be amazed as they stay in character! For example, I asked why the flag looked different. :)

Interactive displays

The museum is uniquely interactive and great for kids! Let me show you a few of my favorite displays that I know you and your kiddos will love to experience and play with.

Visualize all the historic trails, (Oregon Trail shown of course!) with this light up interactive map.

Most popular attraction: Take a turn fording a river in a moving prairie schooner! 

Take a stage coach ride (The video inside- complete with sound- makes it feel like it's really moving!)

Want to know how the Mormons felt while lugging these handcarts around? Test out one of these! (Note: Ask for help with these from museum staff!)

Visit the video room depicting The Mormon Handcart Tragedy of 1856. This group left Missouri in August when it was recommended to reach Independence Rock in Wyoming by the 4th of July, and the video depicts their treacherous journey. Coolest of all, the room even features a freezing cold breeze to really get you in the spirit of this sad story. 
A scene depicting one of the many deaths that occurred on this harrowing journey.

The video of their journey shown in the chilled room.

"Send" a telegram and find out whether it makes it there on time, or if it delayed by any number of historically accurate catastrophes!

The museum has so much to offer, but eventually it's time to say goodbye. On to our next Casper stop!

David Street Station Spray Park

After your morning of education, it's time to have a little fun in the sun!! Head over to David Street Station in downtown Casper with your kids, swimsuits, and towels! Again, this is FREE. Score.
A new addition to downtown Casper! With a splash pad, seating areas, a grassy area, and amphitheater for events, it certainly has something for everyone. 

My Vivian enjoyed the cool spray at the splash pad! Kids of all ages were running around enjoying themselves. 
Oh what fun! (faces blurred to protect the kiddos of Casper)

Now, mama needs a coffee! When you're done hanging in the sun, grab a Baileys from my favorite downtown hangout: Metro- located just across the street! 
As wonderful as I think Casper is, there are other stops for us to see along the trail!

Goodbye Casper!

Independence Rock

Stay a night at one of the hotels here in town and then in the morning, get ready to head to Independence Rock. It is 56 miles away from Casper as you follow your own trip down the Oregon Trail. It is a historic landmark- and an institution along the trail. Again, there is NO COST, and there are picnic benches at a rest area nearby. 
Independence Rock got it's name from the day settlers should arrive. It was said that if you made it to Independence Rock by Independence Day (July 4th) chances were good that you would make it to Oregon City before winter and the treachery presented by traveling in such a season!

It was SO much larger than I thought it would be. 

You are allowed to hike upon the rock! Just don't carve your own name. Remember, you might be a part of history, but you aren't part of the Oregon Trail history! 

When you finish at Independence Rock- you are now only 1,084 miles from your final destination of Oregon City, Oregon. (Aren't you so glad you have a car, and not a prairie schooner?!)

If you liked this post, please go and check out the other bloggers' posts along the trail. Here they all are in a quick easy to explore format!

My Breezy Room exploring Topeka, Kansas
Run Style Run checking out Idaho Springs, Idaho
The Messy Season, Mommy on the Mound, and Angie's Angle giving you insider info on Portland, Oregon
Mt. Hood Oregon being traversed by Mom Life in PNW, The B-List Blog, and The House of Hood
The beginning of the trail in Independence Missouri by Making of a Mom
My Casper, Wyoming cohort: Living Overland
Making of a Mom checked out Kearney, Nebraska

This post is sponsored by Oregon’s Mt Hood Territory but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Thanks for reading! :)
xoxo, Love.Haight



  1. My favorite part as a kid was riding the wagon through the river! I can't wait to take John when he is old enough.

    1. That will be so fun! I didn’t get a chance to do the river because they are fixing it Right now! Hopefully anoher time :)


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